Oladance Wearables are the best headphones I’ve used for listening to music/podcasts etc. while riding or training without blocking out audio awareness. They’re easy to connect and control, they’re comfortably secure and they’ve got enough battery life for epic rides and/or forgetful folks. And while open-ear headphones will never be as immersive or ‘noise cancelling’ as in/over-ear designs that’s the whole point. The price won’t be music to your ears unless you can find offers though.
Design and build
The Wearables are supplied in what looks like a half-size glasses case with a contoured inner for each ‘pod’ to sit them on top of the two-pin charging connectors. Unlike most ‘ear pods’ there’s no battery built into the case though so they’ll only recharge if the case is plugged into a power source via the USB-C port.
The pods themselves are double-ended with the battery acting as stabilising ballast at the back of the ear and a flexible arm curving the audio/control pod around to sit front and centre on your ear. Oladance has squeezed an impressively large 16.5mm speaker (or ‘driver’ if you’re an audio anorak) into each pod as well as building touch-sensitive controls into the outer face of each pod.
The default audio controls are configured to stop/start with a tap, skip onwards/backwards with two taps, activate voice assistants with three taps or change volume with a backward/forward stroke. Then there’s another set of commands that come into play when you get a call on your phone. If you want a different set of commands you can change that easily in the clean and equally intuitive Oladance smartphone app. This also lets you choose ‘Default’, ‘Surging bass’, ‘Pure voice’ or custom 6 sliders EQ setting. The pods come in Space Silver (tested), Interstellar Blue, Martian Orange/Blue or Cloud White and each weighs in at just over 12.5g.
There are two distinct performance aspects for headphones - usability and audio performance - so I’ll cover them in that order.
The ‘Wearables’ are relatively heavy for earbuds, and the way they sit on your ear makes it feel like you’re wearing glasses even if you aren’t. They don’t interfere with glasses (or helmet strap) fit though, and they’re not so heavy they become irritating and obtrusive even on long rides or rough descents. The weight also means you’ll notice if you knock one off, but that’s highly unlikely as they stayed securely in place during my ride tests and are designed for multi-sports use like while running, rowing and circuit training. They only finally flew off when I shook my head like a Labrador coming out of a river which isn’t a fair or relevant test. Speaking of rivers while they’re not fully waterproof the IPX-4 rating is enough to handle sweat or rain. Raindrops can occasionally confuse the touch controls and the combination of light touch and slight actuation delay can be an initial issue if you’re impatient, but otherwise, they’re easy to use even with medium-thickness gloves.
The relatively high weight is (literally) balanced by the outstanding battery life which we pushed to over 12 hours before getting a 'twenty percent" audio alert. Bluetooth 5.2 pairing is excellent too, with them eagerly appearing on device alerts as soon as you open the case.
So far, very good and it’s the same with the audio as long as you accept the inescapable fact that open-ear headphones will always have some issues compared to in-ear headphones. The soundscape is inevitably less immersive but having audio awareness of your surroundings whether that’s traffic or bike/surface noises improves safety.
Those big ‘Dynamic Drivers’ still provide plenty of rich, meaty audio and with ‘Surging bass’ engaged, Hatebreed had no trouble getting their ‘posi core’ vibe across when I needed some max interval inspiration. There’s ample subtlety to pick out the emotional bits of podcasts or the heartbreaking hesitations in Dolly Parton’s much better version of ‘I will always love you’ on more introspective days though. If you’re a sharing sort you can hand over a pod and let a pal listen along at the same time. Whether your own ear wax or someone else’s, there are none of the icky, sticky ear wax contamination issues of in-ear pods.
Crucially background awareness is much better than in-ear ‘phones, the more you crank up your Oladance, the less you’ll be able to hear traffic. Or to put it another way, it’s better that you rewind a bit of podcast you missed because a bus close passed you than winding up under the wheels of that bus instead. Wind noise was only an issue when the combined riding and wind speed started pushing beyond 30mph.
Be aware that there is a noticeable sound leak in quiet areas, so keep the volume low or get a hat over them for muffling purposes, if you’re on a train, library or any other sound-sensitive environment.
Open-ear headphones will always have some wind noise/sound leak/less immersive compromises. But if you want to have some audio for your riding without losing awareness of surrounding sounds then the Oladance Wearables are excellent. Music or spoken word quality is also much better than most ‘bone phones’ and as good as many in/over-ear setups I’ve used. Security is much better than most in-ears I’ve tried and the battery life, connectivity, controls and app tuning are outstandingly good. This does all come at a high price - particularly in the UK - though and a battery in the case would be a nice addition for remote charging.
Tech Specs: Oladance Wearable Stereo headphones
- Price: $179.99 / £199.99/ €179.99
- Color Options: Space Silver (tested), Interstellar Blue, Martian Orange/Blue or Cloud White
- Weight: 12.6g (each pod)